In November last year Glacial Sound announced its fifth and final record, a vinyl release of Riko Dan & Rabit’s anthem Black Dragons. It’s testament to label boss Paul Purcell’s vision with the label that in just five releases over a two and a half year period the label had become a linchpin in a burgeoning experimental club scene, giving early airings to figures like Rabit and Murlo while pushing the boat out with the refracted grime of Sharp Veins. What was particularly surprising about this announcement was that in May I interviewed Paul for our now-defunct Functions Of The Now series and, with the release of Sharp Veins’ debut EP heralding a widening of Glacial Sound’s remit, he appeared to have big plans for the label. One such plan involved v1984, a producer regular readers will recognise from Kuedo’s Truancy Volume. At the time, Paul said “He has so many tunes it might be hard to dwindle it down to an EP so I don’t know what could happen. It could be a more expansive project. Like a 20 track EP”.
Lo and behold, almost a year later v1984’s debut EP Becoming N(one) is set to appear, significantly shorter than a 20 track EP but all the better for it. It inaugurates Glacial Industries, a soft reset of the Glacial Sound project to mark the label’s expansion into bold new territories. Trace elements of grime’s square wave synths connect Glacial-past to Glacial-present but this is something entirely different. The six compositions sit in a lineage with the uncanny valley stylings of recent Oneohtrix Point Never and Far Side Virtual era James Ferraro, but operate with a sincerity and emotional weight that is entirely v1984’s own. It’s one of our favourite releases of the year thus far and we’re excited to premiere the title track today. We caught up with v1984 to talk about his musical upbringing and the roadmap to Becoming N(one).
For the uninitiated, could you introduce yourself? “My name is Christopher Pak Ramos (aka v1984). I currently call Cleveland, Ohio my home.”
It’s been almost a year since Paul talked about you releasing a “more expansive project” in light of your prolific output: how did you manage to carve out a six track release when your work rate was so high? And what’s the v1984 vault looking like these days? “Most of these tracks were initially written/recorded in 2014, and it was a matter of developing them into a cohesive output that I felt comfortable with as an artist.
When initially talking about a release, I did have some ideas about doing an expansive 20 track EP. I started to create a track everyday, even if it was only for ten minutes and ended up being 4 bars long. Because of this I inadvertently built a vault I suppose. Nowadays the vault is gathering cobwebs as work currently has me consumed.
In regards to creating the EP, I feel like my unconventional journey/upbringing played a large role. I was groomed to be a pianist, but just as a supplement to my studies, as many first generation Asian Americans experience growing up. I fell in love with artistic expression, first as a physical medium, but didn’t feel a lot of encouragement, and so dropping out of architecture school, I was pressured into the Air Force where I worked in the intelligence field. From there I had to kind of face what my passions were which led me to design (again) where I became really fascinated with design theory. Long story short, I was trying to apply some of the theory I was learning at school into my work. It wasn’t until after I did the mix for J.G. Bieberkopf’s first ‘Unthinkable’ [Note: v1984’s mix begins at 29 mins] that I had achieved something that I finally felt represented my intentions and experiences.”
This release is a reset button for Glacial Sound, with the label being reborn as Glacial Industries to release it. In some ways it’s a reset for you too, as you deleted all of the music that you previously had on the internet when it was announced: what was the thinking behind that? “I think it was all relevant to the title Becoming N(one). I wanted to start fresh, and have this be known as a beginning for v1984.”
Can you tell us about some of the things that influenced the record? To my ears I can hear traces of grime’s sound palette, but mostly Kara-Lis Coverdale’s lush compositions or the emotive soundtracks of JRPGs. “Yes, there definitely are some adjacent sounds and familiar tropes that I pull from. While I appreciate the sentiment behind that, I think that my approach to music is uniquely my own, and am very much grateful and appreciative of the comparison to a group of producers who are highly individual in respect to their own art/music.
My sound began being shaped early. I was very interested in abstract ideas and dissonant sound qualities. Growing up in a traditional Asian household (Filipino/Korean) I played piano and violin, and was fascinated especially by Rachmaninoff’s unconventional use of sound using conventional instrumentation. This definitely has resonated unconsciously with my work, as I really want to create sound that is simultaneously relatable, but foreign, as that definitely was my experience as both a person and an artist growing up.
My background in product design heavily influenced my current foundations as an artist by facilitating various theories and methods towards my work. At the end of the day, I am creating an experience for myself and the audience through this EP. While this ‘product’ that I am creating may not immediately be physically tangible, it’s accessible to the audience via empathy.”
Becoming (N)one is an exceptionally cohesive release, and the two-part Pre, Post, Pre(-lude) gives some indication that your intention is for it all to hang together: can you tell us a little about the concept behind the release? “I previously mentioned how I started writing tracks daily, this quick ’sketch’ or ‘diary’ method influenced my process. Many times, I was attempting to cram as many ideas as possible within a 10-15 minute window. Doing so let me directly watch an evolution with my own work, both as I matured as a person, but as my emotions coloured my work as an artist. I wrote directly from my stream of consciousness, without adhering to any genre or specific idea, which reflected consciously in my studies as a student.”
A lot of people were first introduced to you with your OG Bobby Johnson and Too Much edits: I think they might be surprised at just how emotionally rich the EP is. Will the world see the club-ready side of v1984 again? “Between the OG Bobby Johnson edit and the Too Much edit, people were very much expecting a release leaning more towards the stadium/club spectrum of sound. I think there will most definitely be a club-ready side of v1984.”
You featured heavily in Kuedo’s Truancy Volume mix last year, and your work seems to be aligned with that of Knives, the label he runs with Joe Shakespeare: is there anything in the works there? “I can’t say ‘too much’.”
Becoming N(one) is available on May 12th through Glacial Industries. Pre-order here.